What is Twitter and how do I use it?

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In a nutshell, twitter is a way to tell the world what you're doing. While it's true that the whole world might not be listening, there's a good chance that you'll find someone who is interested in the things you say, whether it's real-life friends or new people you meet on twitter.

When you log on to twitter, you will be asked, "What are you doing?" Your job as a twitter user is tell us what you're doing in 140 characters or less. This short little expression is called a 'tweet.' You will find people tweeting about all kinds of things, but if you follow members of the BBA Challenge on twitter, you'll find that we're tweeting about bread more often than not!

What does it mean to follow someone? If you decide to follow another twitter user, their tweets will end up on your page (also known as your twitterstream). If you are following lots of people, your twitterstream will be very active! I follow lots of people, so I don't even bother trying to keep up with everything. I like to check in and see what people are doing in real time, rather than scroll through all the tweets I missed while I was away.

Gaining followers: If you follow a person, it doesn't mean that they will automatically follow you back. Some people will follow you, some won't. I suggest that you follow people who seem interesting to you and don't worry too much about whether they follow you back. In time, you will make friends and gain new followers.

How to use twitter for The BBA Challenge: The majority of BBA Challenge Members are on twitter. That's where it began, after all! If you want to contribute to the BBA Challenege 'conversation' on twitter, tell us what you're baking or ask questions if you're having trouble. But make sure to add the hashtag #bba at the very end of your tweet. Using the #bba tag allows other BBA Challenge members to find your tweet when they do a twitter search. You can see what other BBA Challenge members are talking about by typing #bba into the search box on your twitter homepage.

Twitter references:
What is Twitter and Why Does it Keep Following Me Around?- from Tweeternet
Read about twitter on Wikipedia

Twitter Glossary

@username: These replies are aimed at a specific user, but are visible to the public. Just mentioning a user’s name with an @ in front of it will ensure that the user sees your note when they check their replies on twitter.

Direct Message (DM): Direct messages are a way to send a private message to another user. Just like regular tweets, the message is limited to 140 characters. DMs are useful when you have something to say to a person that might not interest any of your other twitter followers. Keep in mind that you can only send direct messages to people who are following you. You can check your direct messages by clicking on the link on your twitter homepage, but you will also receive a regular email notification when you receive a twitter DM. Keep in mind that you can't reply to a DM via email, only from your twitter homepage.

RT (retweet): Retweeting is a way to share someone else's tweet that you found interesting or useful. The proper way to retweet is to add 'RT @username' before the tweet you are sharing or to add (via @username) at the end of the tweet you are sharing. Adding the 'RT @username' is a way to credit the original source when you are sharing information found on twitter. There don't seem to be any specific rules about this, but it is common courtesy. I’ll often retweet links that I find useful or funny, especially good recipes or pretty much anything that makes me laugh out loud.

TinyUrl: http://tinyurl.com is a service that shortens web addresses making them easier to fit into a tweet. Visit the site and read the directions, you'll find this very useful!

Hashtags: Hashtags are a way to track certain topics on twitter. Any word with a hash mark (#) placed directly in front of it becomes a hashtag, even if no one else is using it yet. Clicking on a hashtag from your twitterstream will bring up any tweets from any twitter user that include the same hashtag. You can also do a search for a specific hashtag. The hashtags for the Bread Baker's Apprentice challenge are #BBA or #bba (whichever you prefer). Adding #bba anywhere in your tweet (we usually add it to the end of the tweet) will ensure that other members in the group will see it if they do a twitter search for #bba. To track what other BBA members are talking about, just type #bba into the search box on your twitter homepage. The most recent #bba tweets will appear on top, and you can scroll down to see older tweets.

Twitpic: This is a service that allows you to post pictures directly from your computer to Twitter. Simply log in to http://twitpic.com using your Twitter username and password. You'll be able to upload a photo directly from your computer and twitpic will allow you to write a tweet to go along with the photo. Once you post the photo and whatever description you want to include, twitpic will post a tweet for you with a link to your photo. There are other services that will do the same, but twitpic is one of the popular ones.

Take me back to the BBA Challenge FAQ